A cessationist believer wrote: There were 3 types of gifts:  Communication gifts, serving gifts and sign gifts.

I believe the sign gifts were for the infancy of the church – just like Jesus did miracles so people would believe, so did the apostles.  They were no longer needed once the canon of scripture was completed and the church was established. 

Our response:
We would choose not to argue on this point. For us it is more important for believers to rely on Scripture than on miracles—amen. (Nevertheless, however, we do not believe that the supernatural gifts have ceased. 

However, consider a place like many areas of predominantly Hindu India where the Church has not been established or even in its infancy—where the gospel has never been preached—as it was in Israel in the days before the coming of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Why should miracles in such places not be needed for people to believe, just as the Jews needed miracles to believe in Jesus as their Messiah?

John 4:48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

Jesus above was of course referring to the Jews who would not believe unless they saw signs and wonders. Today there are vast swaths of the world where the same applies—where gospel-resistant Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and idol-worshippers dwell.

Cessationist believer:
Even Jesus said “Blessed is he who has NOT SEEN and yet believes.”  And I believe these are the gifts that are the easiest to counterfeit by Satan. 

Let us examine the context of the verse quoted above.

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

After seeing Jesus with his own eyes, Thomas believed. “Because you have seen me, you have believed.” Then comes the next verse: “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” What is the object of the verb “seen” in “those who have not seen”? Clearly the object is found in the very preceding clause “Because you have been seen ME, you have believed.”

The reference here is clearly not to seeing miraculous healings and so forth, but specifically to seeing the person of Jesus Christ Himself after His resurrection. Few of any of us today have seen Jesus in such a way, yet we believe in Him. And because of that faith apart from sight Jesus says that we are “blessed.”

The very next two verses, however, are the clincher.

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

These two verses teach that Jesus performed many miracles, for example miraculous healings, for the specific purpose of confirming His identity as the Messiah who can give us eternal life if we believe in Him. Moreover, it was God’s will for John to record those miracles in his gospel so that his readers could believe in Jesus. How therefore could it be in any way less pleasing to Him if sinners today believe on Him after actually witnessing His miracles in real time?

Clearly verse 29b means “blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed.” It should be not used to refer to the many miraculous signs which Jesus performed to prove to the lost that He was the Son of God.

Cessationist believer: 
I nearly married a guy that was in the Assembly of God church.  And every church he and I were a part of misused GREATLY the gift of tongues and healing (I never saw anyone healed).  There were always more than 3 that spoke and the “interpretation” was always the same:  something of encouragement and never prophetic.  I tried harder than anyone to “believe” in this gift.  After all – if there was another “realm” to reach in my spiritual walk with Jesus – I wanted it more than anyone.  My question ALWAYS was:  if these “gifts” are so needed and attainable – I don’t have to ASK for them.  They are given to me.  Gifts.  And why is scripture not more clear?  It is VERY clear on salvation.  It is VERY clear on loving my brother.  It is VERY clear on eternal life.  Why do they have to “piece mill” scriptures together – taken out of context – to prove what they believe?  AND these same believers also believe you can lose your salvation which always stumped me. 

What is being described above are three of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12—the gift of tongues, the gift of interpretation, and the gift of healing. These three gifts were manifested in a church setting in an Assemblies of God church in order to build up the believers in that church. These are clearly different from the power and authority Jesus delegated to his disciples to be used in preaching the gospel to the lost. Therefore this paragraph has little bearing on what we teach with regard to power and authority, and certainly does not negate it.

Cessationist believer: 
Now, that being said, do I believe God can heal?  ABSOLUTELY!  I just don’t think it is today the way it was then.  God still heals today but the GIFT is not in operation.  It is the Sovereign decision of God, not through agents.

Again, we are not referring to GIFTS of healing, but rather to POWER & AUTHORITY over disease and demons for proclaiming the gospel to the lost.

There is a lack of understanding in the evangelical church about the clear difference between the two.


Hebrews 2:3 …This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4  God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (NIV)

According to Strong, “gifts” in the Greek text here is merismos (μερισμός): a separation or distribution, dividing asunder, or gift. It is not the same word as charisma which refers to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit taught in 1 Corinthians 12. Young’s Literal Translation renders Hebrews 2:4b as “distributions of the Holy Spirit, according to his will” instead of “gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” as in the New International Version. These distributions of the Holy Spirit according to Matthew Henry are for “qualifying, enabling, and exciting them [the disciples] to do the work to which they were called” in proclaiming the message of salvation to the lost–which is the very context of Hebrews 2:3-4 as seen above: “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord…”

The only other occurrence of merismos in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 4:12.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Here merismos is translated “dividing asunder” and not “gifts.”

Therefore we should not on the basis of the sole occurrence of merismos in the New Testament translated into English as “gifts” in Hebrews 2:4 discount the strongly-supported conclusions already made about the differences between “gifts” (charisma) on the one hand, and power & authority on the other.  That sole incidence of merismos is literally translated “distributions” enabling the disciples to preach the message of salvation to the lost, and does not refer to the gifts of the Holy Spirit as taught in 1 Corinthians 12 for building up believers.